The Hilliard Division of Police has added four officers to its ranks, though they won't be on the street full time until early next year.

The Hilliard Division of Police has added four officers to its ranks, though they won't be on the street full time until early next year.

Chief Doug Francis introduced the four during a ceremony May 27 at the Joint Safety Services Building.

The new officers are Caitlin Emmerich, Dustin Gigandet, Hunter Schweickart and Vanessa Spears.

Each will attend a 26-week academy at the Columbus Division of Police. They then will receive 12 weeks of field training in Hilliard.

"That is part of our commitment to these officers," Francis said.

Francis said the two most important and memorable days in an officer's career are the first day and the last day.

"Time flies by," said Francis, who recounted in detail his first day as a Worthington police officer.

Francis offered numerous words of advice to the new officers.

"Respect the shield. It represents truth and justice," Francis said. "It is an esteemed privilege."

Mayor Don Schonhardt administered the oath of office to each new officer and family members of their choice pinned a badge.

Emmerich is a 2008 graduate of Grove City High School and a 2012 graduate of the University of Dayton with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. She previously worked at Parr Public Safety Equipment, a company that equips police cars.

"I know I've always wanted to be a police officer," she said. "Hilliard seems to be a great community and I look forward to serving here."

Gigandet, a 2009 graduate of Darby High School, received his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Eastern Kentucky University.

Gigandet said he became a police officer to "give back to my community" and for a variety of daily job experiences.

Schweickart will graduate in 2016 from Ohio Dominican University. He is a 2008 graduate of West Carrollton High School near Dayton.

He is a Marine and served on HMX-1, also known as Marine One, the helicopter crew that transports the president.

"It was an honor and humbling experience," Schweickart said of meeting President Barack Obama and serving as a member of the Marine One crew.

On becoming a police officer, Schweickart said, he wanted a "rewarding career" and to experience the close-knit relationship between a police department and the community it serves.

Spears is from California and in 2013 graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in speech and hearing and criminology.

Spears played on the Buckeyes women's softball team.

She previously worked as an intake counselor in the prosecutor division of the Columbus city attorney's office.

"I wanted a job where I could be a part of something great and help people," Spears said.

Another hire

In addition to the hiring of the four officers, Francis named Todd Harper as the property-evidence custodian.

The former police dispatcher will succeed Pam Cunningham, who is retiring.

"The position became open and we are thrilled to have (Harper)," Francis said.

Harper had been a Hilliard police dispatcher for 23 years.

He was offered a job at the Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center when Hilliard relocated its dispatching to Dublin, but Harper wanted to remain working for Hilliard and took a pay cut to accept a job in the building department at City Hall, Francis said.